School Boards Challenge Textbooks with Evolution, Big Bang Theories

Article excerpt

In America's perennial creation-evolution debate, this school year has been the year of the textbook. "I think the textbook issue is heating up again," says Eugenie Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education in El Cerrito, Calif., the nation's main anticreationist watchdog group. "We've had more calls about textbook problems this year than any other topic."

To avoid disputes about evolution, publishers omit chapters in books shipped to certain states. Some schools glue together offending pages or adhere "educational-aid" labels to texts pointing out that evolution is only the current theory, not a philosophy of life or the final truth.

One institution, the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Virginia, is considering using an insert -- or what critics call a "disclaimer" -- to try to settle a dispute over a biology text. Last October, Bob and Vicky Carr, parents of a Fairfax County ninth-grader, wrote a letter to the school board complaining that the book listed creation science along with astrology under the entry "pseudo-science." "What we can't accept is the implication that our religious faith is just a lot of `pseudoscience,'" they said. The publisher, the Biological Science Curriculum Study, long has been a provider of textbooks with a strong evolution theme.

The Alabama State Board of Education inaugurated the insert approach in 1996. …